How to Safely Buy New & Used Power Tools on Craigslist Local Classifieds for Fraction Prices

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Sites such as Craigslist and eBay make it easier than ever for buyers and sellers to find one another, and one of their most popular categories is tools. Everything from hand tools to shop tools is represented.

But how can you be sure you’re not buying a tool that has only a week to live? There are many things to watch out for or be aware of when buying tools from craigslist because most of the tools are used.

Avoid Buying Tools that get Heavily Used by Most People

If you’re going to buy a cordless drill that you want to keep for years, buy a new one. If you REALLY want to buy a used drill, then at least make sure it’s gently used and comes with multiple batteries.

A beat up drill can burn out pretty easy. What other items are heavily used? Depends who you’re buying from. It would be helpful to ask how much action the tool has seen and you can generally get a sense of the material condition of a tool just by looking at it.

Tools that People Rarely Use can be Bought for Big Savings

If you’re a DIYer you may be guilty of this yourself. You have a project that uses a specific tool that after you’ve used it once, you may never use it again. I actually did a whole post on the tools I rarely use.These are major “jackpot” items since the seller probably expects to take a hit on it compared to what was paid for it. Buying a tool for a specific task even if used can be cheaper than renting it if you need it for a few days or weeks. What kind of tools are these?

Floor nailers, framing and roofing nailers, cement mixers, tile saws, post diggers, welders, jointers, planers, scaffolding, etc. The best part about buying single job tools is you can probably resell them again for at least what you paid for them or maybe more if you get a deal.

Make Sure it Works Before You Purchase

If it has a cord, plug it in. Seems like a no-brainer, but.. you know. Check the power cord for electrical tape. If it looks like the wiring has been repaired, you should probably skip it.

Don’t Judge Based on Appearance

A filthy tool might look off-putting at first, but the reason it’s dirty might be that it hasn’t been used much. Perhaps it’s been sitting around in a garage or shed. It’s common to find tools that are lightly used but look terrible. Try asking the owner how long it has been sitting for.

Buy Tools that Use the Same Battery

Since you’re just starting your power tool collection, you have the advantage of carefully curating your stock. Pay attention to the type of battery your cordless tools use.

Buying several tools that use the same battery means that you can buy a back-up that’s compatible with your whole set. Plus, you won’t have to lug around 10 different battery chargers.

Test Your Power Tool Before You Buy

Trying the tool out is especially important when buying power tools and large equipment such as generators and pressure washers. If you can’t see that a tool works and listen to the motor run, then you’re really taking a chance with that purchase—and the price should reflect your risk.

If you can run the tool, look closely at the moving parts and listen to the sound of the motor. Major problems can often be identified if you look and listen carefully there will be some way you will notice.

Name Brands are the Best way to go for Longevity

Tool brands that have a strong reputation are almost always a good option, and they’re oftentimes less expensive online. “It’s all about looking at brand names and checking prices. It varies regionally, personally, and even by the tool category, but Milwaukee, Bosch, and Makita are a few generally reliable brands—among many others that simply cannot compare.

Know What You’re Getting and if its a Good Deal or Not

Carefully read a tool’s details online, whether buying used on eBay or new on Amazon. Sometimes a tool is substantially cheaper online because it’s rebuilt, the tool comes without a battery and charger, or it’s a different version than what you saw in a store. Look at the model number, see what accessories come with it, battery’s, chargers, cords, ect… check to make sure it’s the new tool you want, and read over the warranty to see if its expired or not.